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Influential Russian MP reveals Moscow could quit Council of Europe if body takes action against Moscow over Navalny ECHR decision

Influential Russian MP reveals Moscow could quit Council of Europe if body takes action against Moscow over Navalny ECHR decision
Russia may leave the Council of Europe (CoE) if the 47-member international organization opts to take measures against Moscow, and could possibly even create its own version of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

That’s according to Pyotr Tolstoy, the vice-speaker of the State Duma and the one of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)’s vice-chairmen.

Russia is under pressure from the CoE after Moscow refused to execute a decision of the ECHR that demanded opposition figure Alexey Navalny be released. Navalny is currently in jail, serving a controversial sentence for embezzlement, after a Moscow court ruled he broke the terms of a suspended judgment from 2014.

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The CoE has a special mechanism for responding to member nation violations, and Tolstoy says Russia might leave if that process is initiated.

“The first thing we should do is … reconsider our role in this organization. The second, in case the trilateral procedure is launched against our country, is leave,” Tolstoy said at a roundtable meeting of the Federation Council on Monday.

Tolstoy was referring to the CoE’s three-party process, which can lead to the eventual expulsion of a country from the organization.

“We can set up our own ECHR together with our allies, if we have any,” Tolstoy explained. “And if we don’t have any, we can create an additional control mechanism within our legal system that will meet the aspirations of our citizens in terms of protection of their rights.”

In response, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow wishes to remain a part of European structures, including the Council of Europe, noting that President Vladimir Putin is a “staunch supporter of dialogue in all spheres.”

“It is necessary to continue working with our interlocutors, including within PACE, until they make interaction impossible,” Peskov said.

“There are some very sober voices there, too,” he explained. “There are also quite implacable voices in the Council of Europe that call for cutting off all ties. We are more impressed by constructive voices, which talk about the necessity to talk to one another, even if we do not agree on many things.”

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